LYNN — Despite a near record number of murders and a slight uptick in car thefts last year, the city’s overall crime is down, according to the Lynn Police Department.
While the murder rate tripled, crime was down in five out of seven crime categories in 2017, a 16 percent decrease.
The biggest drop came in sexual assaults. There were 33 percent fewer rapes last year compared to 2016. Thefts were off by 20 percent; burglaries down by 19 percent; assaults dropped by 15 percent; and robberies slipped by 7 percent.
Not all the news was good.
When Latrell Ayers, a 33-year-old homeless man, was stabbed to death in September, it brought the total number of murders to 12, matching the dozen in 1991. That’s the most since 1994, when there were 14 homicides, according to FBI statistics.
On Tuesday, two men were arrested and charged with the murder of 34-year-old Pedro Carrillo who was shot and killed on Curwin Circle last summer. Ernest Edwards, 36, of Quincy, and Philip Thompson, a 30-year-old Haverhill resident, will be arraigned this week in Lynn District Court.
While auto thefts increased slightly to 217 last year, up from 211 in 2016, burglaries decreased to 303 from 376, larcenies dropped to 1,108 from 1,390, and assaults fell to 1,159, down from 1,371.
“We are pleased crime is down 16 percent, that’s an extraordinary number especially given the challenges we face with the budgetary and manpower constraints we’ve had,” said Police Chief Michael Mageary. “It speaks to the work that the men and women in the department have been doing all year.”
While the murder rate tripled, Mageary said the one positive is arrests have been made in nine of 12 cases.
“Hopefully that provides some comfort to the families that we are out there catching these people,” he said. “We are always striving to do better and work with the community.”
Still, there are still some worries in the neighborhoods.
Theresa Sylvia, a lifelong East Lynn resident, said she was surprised to learn crime is down. Given the number of convenience store robberies in the last few months, she thought crime was up.
“I don’t know where crime is down,” she said. “The robberies of convenience stores are a great concern.”
Abu Sayed, the owner of Sunrise Market on Chatham Street where there were four robbies in three months last year, said he does not feel safe.
“More of a police presence is needed,” he said. “I’d like to see more police cruisers in the area keeping a lookout. The fewer the cops, the higher the crime rate.”
Lt. Michael Kmiec agrees more officers and cruisers on the street would be best.
“No one is debating that more manpower the better,” he said. “We’ve taken huge cuts with our detective and special units. With the exception of the armed robberies at the end of the year and the first part of this year, the numbers are really good.”